This activity encourages students to make sense of graphical data, and challenges them to apply their own knowledge about athletics to explain and interpret the graphs. It is designed to be accessible to secondary maths students at Key Stage 3.
Detailed teachers' notes for this activity are available on our NRICH website.
Stage: 3 Challenge Level:
Here are ten graphs showing how Olympic records have changed over time in ten athletic events.
Can you deduce which event each graph represents?
You can click on the thumbnails above to view each graph, or download this pdf or this powerpoint with all the graphs.
Here are some questions to consider, which may help you to make sense of the graphs:
- Can you determine what the units might be on the vertical axis for each graph?
- Why do some graphs show a decreasing trend and some an increasing trend?
- Are there any unusual features on any of the graphs? Can you think of a plausible explanation for them?
Thanks to Alan Parr for suggesting this problem.
If you're finding hard to get started, try looking at this hint.